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Why Crunches and Sit Ups do NOT Get You Six Pack Abs

Why Crunches and Sit Ups do NOT Get You Six Pack Abs

Doing countless crunches and sit ups are by far the most common exercise mistake for anyone who wants to slim down their midsection. The thought is that doing hundreds of crunches and sit ups will work the abs so hard that the fat covering them will disappear. If this were true, you would see people walking around with toned and defined abs and a soft and flabby body everywhere else.

Here's something to think about: we're always focusing on the abs but you ever noticed that the people who have the best abs also have a great body everywhere else? This is by design - not by coincidence. The idea that doing lots of crunches is going to get you six pack abs is a myth that is known as "spot reduction". Fat burning is not a local phenomenon. When you do bicep curls your biceps do not pull fat from your arm for energy, so why would crunches reduce the fat around your waistline? More on that soon.

If you want to see your abs then know this:

It all comes down to the basics of losing body fat, which is calories in vs. calories out.

In order to lose body fat you need to create a caloric deficit, which means that your body is burning more calories than it is taking in. Your diet constitutes how many calories you are taking in and your level of physical activity is what constitutes how many calories you burn off (in addition to your resting metabolism).

The biggest problem with crunches and sit ups are that they do not give you a very big "bang for your buck" with regard to caloric expenditure. You can spend 15 minutes doing crunches and get your abs working very hard, but you will only burn a small number of calories. This is not enough to have a large impact on losing body fat.

A simple way to understand this is to think about the difference workload between total body exercise and crunches.

Here is an example to get you started.

If you do an intense total body circuit (ex. squats, pushups, mountain climbers) for 15 minutes and compare that to 15 minutes of crunches, which do you think will burn more overall calories?

The answer is the total body exercise because you are working more muscles which in turn makes you burn more calories. The more calories you burn the more fat you will lose on your entire body, thus exposing your abs to the world. This is why total body training is so effective for losing body fat. It gives you a big "bang for your buck" because you are able to get so much work done in a relatively short amount of time.

Doing hundreds of crunches and sit ups are simply not a very efficient way to spend your time exercising. Your goal with exercising to lose body fat is to burn a lot of calories and to boost your metabolism.

Despite this overwhelming evidence - the general consensus is that doing crunches and sit ups will help you lose belly fat. It is very common to hear questions such as "I am doing lots of crunches but my waistline is not getting any smaller, what am I doing wrong?"

It is not that crunches are absolutely "wrong"; it is just that they are one of the least efficient ways to burn calories. Trying to use only crunches as your primary means to burn significant calories is like trying to lower your body fat by doing bicep curls, calf raises, or tricep extensions. All of these exercises burn a small amount of calories, because they are working small muscle groups.

Getting six pack abs is simply a matter of having a low body fat percentage. Lowering your body fat comes from creating a caloric deficit that forces your body to use stored fat as energy.

Even though crunches are not the best way to lose belly fat, you will find in the next section that training your abdominals according to their true function can help you get tighter abs faster.

Once you have stripped off all the fat THEN crunches are the best way to sharpen, define, and create a head turning 6-Pack, right??


Keep reading and you'll see why.

Main Lesson: Getting six pack abs is largely a matter of losing body fat. Total body training burns more calories than crunches and sit ups, and it is a much more effective and efficient way of training to get the most benefit in the least amount of time.


  1. I agree and disagree with you here, the intention of crunches is not to burn stomach fat that is the big misconception, if you are fat and do only crunches there is no ways that you will magically lose stomach fat. If a skinny guy on the other hand were to do crunches he would get abs, I have seen it many times with myself, friends of mine and even celebrities like Herschel Walker, Usher who got abs by doing hundreds of crunches. Bare in mind that my friends and I happen to be active people, Herschel and Usher are active people as well Hershel is an athlete known for training using basic body-weight exercises, usher is a musician and dancer but those activities help burn off the fat, the development (thickening and formation of split was due to crunches). What I am saying is if you just lose fat and do not do abs exercises you will get a flat stomach but not the impressive abs you see on fitness models because you did not develop your abdominal muscles, you just peeled off the fat. For most people crunches won't get them abs but writing them off completely is unnecessary. Abs are not made in the kitchen they are revealed in the kitchen, you develop them with abs exercises, and reveal them by pealing off fat by doing cardio and controlling calories with a proper diet.

    Its is much easier to get abs if you lift weights as the heavy lifts thicken your abs, and as you said its better to do whole body movements to burn calories as well. My piont is diet alone will not give you amazing abs, you need to train your abs smartly by training all your abdominal regions the upper abs, the lower abs and your obliques. There are exercises targeting each of those regions, and situps target mostly your upper abs. So doing different ab exercises including crunches and sit ups, combined with a great nutrition plan and some cardio will get you abs. And as I said if you lift weight it will be even easier for you to get abs.

  2. yeah genie but here the general idea is if you have stomach fat you crunches is not the solution to get abs is the diet and long time exercises if you're skinny just but crunches you can get the 6 pack abs
    thanks genie for participate ..

  3. @city: you welcome and thanks for the cmment

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  5. yeah abs make in the kitchen :) i like the video :)

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  7. thanks for the comment mcquiston and nice video